Liverpool were made to work hard for all three points as they got narrowly edged a resolute Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on Monday.
The first half was a tightly contested affair, with the best chance falling to the hosts, who saw Andros Townsend’s long-range effort hit the crossbar. But, just as it looked liked Palace had done enough to hold Liverpool, Mohamed Salah was tripped in the box by Mamadou Sakho at the stroke of half-time.
James Milner subsequently converted from the spot, giving the Reds a hard earned lead. The second half saw the two sides trade blows in a much more open game, albeit without the scoreline changing. But, the scales were tipped in Liverpool’s favour when Aaron Wan-Bissaka was sent off for bringing down Salah when he was clean through on goal.
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) August 20, 2018
Jurgen Klopp & co. did make their advantage work towards the dying moments of the match as Salah teed up Sadio Mane for the winner. Liverpool are now the only side to have not conceded a goal after two gameweeks this season and trail Manchester City by just goal difference. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Klopp’s men.
Crystal Palace provided the Brazilian’s first real test in competitive football for Liverpool. And, Alisson came through with flying colours. The most impressive aspect about his game was his assured collection of aerial deliveries, something he didn’t do consistently while at AS Roma. Distributed the ball smartly as well, both with his hands and feet.
Trent Alexander-Arnold: 7/10
As always, Alexander-Arnold constantly presented himself as an outlet in the final third. But, his usually dangerous deliveries were nowhere to be seen on the night. At the back though, the teenager was solid for the most part, keeping Jeffrey Schlupp, and Wilfried Zaha at times, quiet for the most part. Encouraging signs, as far as defence is concerned.
Joe Gomez: 8/10
Monday night’s outing was perhaps the most accomplished performance in Liverpool colours for Gomez. The young Englishman is evidently growing in confidence with Virgil van Dijk beside him, and he showed tremendous reading of the game to keep the Crystal Palace attackers quiet while playing the high line. A last ditch tackle on Zaha was highly impressive.
Virgil van Dijk: 9/10
🍾Man of the Match, @LFC’s Virgil Van Dijk 🍾
Completed 73/79 passes
8 clearances (most in match)
16 aerial duels (most in match)
Liverpool have kept 9 clean sheets in his 16 PL apps pic.twitter.com/6eVbd8o2rf
— Sky Sports Statto (@SkySportsStatto) August 20, 2018
The man of the match on the night. Virgil van Dijk barely put a foot wrong, keeping his backline organised and disciplined against a tricky Palace attack. In typical fashion though, the Dutchman was colossal in the air, winning the most aerial duels (16) and also the most clearances on the night (8). The difference maker in defence for Liverpool.
Andrew Robertson: 7/10
A game of two halves for Robertson. The Scot was a peripheral figure in the first half, when his touch let him down on a number of occasions. But, he grew into the game as Crystal Palace went about searching for an equaliser, which left many open spaces for him to exploit. Rarely troubled at the back though, bar the odd flourish from Townsend.
James Milner: 7/10
A quietly solid performance from Milner, who is the big workhorse for Liverpool. The veteran looked sharp in the early stages of the match, providing several teasing crosses. He also ended up giving his side the lead, calmly converting from the spot.
You don’t beat James Milner when he scores 🔑 pic.twitter.com/qg3anRjmqd
— B/R Football (@brfootball) August 20, 2018
Looked weary in the second half and was rightly taken off at the hour mark. At full-time though, Milner had extended his staggering record of not losing a game he has scored in, which now stands at 48 (W38 D10).
Georginio Wijnaldum: 7/10
Deployed once again in the holding midfield role which he has taken a liking to, Wijnaldum was solid and efficient for the most part on the night. The Dutchman covered the half spaces in the middle of the park, which meant Palace rarely attacked through the middle. A bundle of energy, his passing was neat and crisp as well. Solid customer for the Reds.
Naby Keita: 7/10
Another impressive performance by Keita, even if it wasn’t flawless. The Guinean produced the moment of the match when he turned an onrushing Townsend in his own half before sending Salah clean through on goal. Moments later though, his lapse in concentration nearly saw Townsend put the Eagles ahead before the crossbar came to his rescue.
Naby Keïta made more tackles (5) than any other player on the pitch during Liverpool's 2-0 win vs. Crystal Palace.
Another promising display. 8️⃣ pic.twitter.com/9NNZgRZiax
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) August 20, 2018
But, Keita remained confident despite the error, passing smartly while also putting in a shift defensively – he made more tackles than any other player on the pitch on the night.
Mohamed Salah: 6.5/10
Salah did win the penalty for Liverpool, albeit many terming it as a soft one. He also provided the assist for his side’s second goal of the game. But, other than those two moments, the Egyptian never quite looked at his best.
While his pace and energetic runs did make him a threat, the potency was missing from his game, which saw him miss a couple of fantastic scoring opportunities. Far from his best despite a match-defining outing, but that will always happen considering how high a bar Salah has set from himself.
Roberto Firmino: 6/10
A rather underwhelming performance by Firmino, who wasn’t as influential as he would have liked. The Brazilian was full of energy and linked up well by dropping deep. But, he is still lacking the required sharpness in and around the opposition box. Another glaring aspect of his outing was that he was often dropping so deep that he couldn’t get back up to be an outlet.
Sadio Mane: 7/10
Mane didn’t have a lot of joy on the night, with the dismissed Wan-Bissaka having his measure for the most part. The Senegalese never stopped trying though, and he arguably remained the most potent threat for Liverpool despite his marker’s performance.
Mane often opened up play nicely as well, as the Reds were forced out wide by a disciplined Crystal Palace defence. He finally got the goal deserving of the hard work, as he evaded Sakho when sent through by Salah before rounding Wayne Hennessey. Another big confidence booster for Liverpool’s number 10.
Jordan Henderson: 6/10
Replaced Milner at the hour mark before taking the holding midfield role over from Wijnaldum, just like last week. And the Liverpool captain slotted in perfectly, keeping the hosts’ attack quiet during his cameo while passing crisply to see the game out. Making a case to return to the starting lineup.